D&D classes guide: choosing the best D&D class for you

So you’re joining a new campaign - but which D&D class is right for you? Here’s everything you need to make your choice

D&D 5E class guide main image party closeup

There are 12 classes in the Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition (D&D 5E)  Player’s Handbook; from robed spellcasters, to great axe-wielding warriors, to enigmatic druids, fantasy fans are spoiled for choice. However, at first glance, the options may appear overwhelming when trying to build a character for your next bold adventure.

Each of the classes has unique mechanics and exciting roleplaying possibilities which will govern how you progress in your campaign, making them a key component in your D&D experience. Every choice comes with its own archetypes, playstyles, advantages and disadvantages, and, considering how much time you will be investing in your character, it’s vital to consider all options before you make a firm decision.

This guide covers all the D&D 5E Player’s Handbook classes, examining their basic stats, playstyles, and offering a few helpful tips. If you are a new player, or just fancy a quick refresher before deciding what class is best suited to you, this guide will help you choose before setting out on your next campaign.

The Basics

A big question to ask yourself when looking at classes is what kind of role you want to take in the adventuring party. Do you want to be the armoured support, like a Cleric? Or maybe the flashy damage-dealer as a Sorcerer? To help guide your choice, there are six primary abilities in D&D: 

Think about your enemies:

Think about your enemies:

Different enemies in D&D 5E are weak against certain classes - for example, Clerics are unstoppable forces against undead. Ask your DM about this - and check the Monster Manual for more info!

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  • Strength 
  • Constitution 
  • Wisdom 
  • Charisma 
  • Intelligence 
  • Dexterity

Each class will specialise in a primary ability that governs character building and roleplaying options. For example, a Fighter will focus on strength, maybe tending to run into battle impulsively and solve their problems with combat, while a Bard will focus on charisma and charm their way out of sticky situations. When picking a class, look at their primary abilities and consider what sort of character you would want to roleplay.

D&D 5E class guide party vs dragon

D&D 5E CLASSES

If there’s already a class you’ve taken a shine to, you can use the links above to cast Teleport and hop straight there.

That said, a good adventurer knows their allies’ skills and characteristics as well as their own, so make sure you check out all the classes before before venturing forth!

D&D 5E class guide barbarian image

 Barbarian

Party Role   Damage dealer, Tank
Primary Ability Strength
Saving Throws Strength, Constitution
Hit Dice 1d12 per Level 
HP at 1st Level   12 + Constitution modifier

Yep, that’s right, he’s the one on the left with the horned helmet.

The embodiment of anger management issues, Barbarians are the classic muscle-bound, hot-headed warriors we all know and love. Based on figures like Conan or Boudica, they are heavy hitters who excel in battle. With their rage ability and higher-level subclass features, they have the potential to deal devastating damage in combat and are near-impossible to take down because, of all the classes, they have the highest hit dice (which determine your health).

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As this is a simple class that usually focuses on using brawn instead of brains, players will want to prioritise raising their strength, constitution and dexterity scores for an effective battle-ready Barbarian build.

D&D 5E class guide bard portrait

BARD

Party Role   Utility, Support, Control
Primary Ability Charisma 
Saving Throws Charisma, Dexterity
Hit Dice 1d8 per Level 
HP at 1st Level   8+ Constitution modifier 

If you want to hone in on your roleplaying skills, the confident and charming Bard is a great choice. Often referred to as the ‘jack of all trades’ of the adventuring party, the Bard is a versatile class that can be a huge benefit to teammates, both in battle and social interactions.

A relatively tricky class to optimise, choosing the Bard’s spells requires strategic thinking and foresight. As they are primary spellcasters who truly shine in social situations, focus on raising their charisma score as you progress. 

D&D 5E Class Guide cleric portrait

CLERIC

Party Role   Support, Healer, Damage dealer
Primary Ability Wisdom 
Saving Throws Wisdom, Charisma 
Hit Dice 1d8 per Level 
HP at 1st Level   8 + Constitution modifier

Clerics are the divine agents of gods, and act as your tanky healer, smiting evil while keeping their party alive. However, Clerics can follow vastly different archetypes and playstyles based on which god and divine domain they choose.

The player’s handbook details seven divine domains that will dictate your party role; for example,if you are focused on healing, Life domain is a great choice, whereas combat- orientated Clerics will benefit from the War domain.

Since Clerics are primary spellcasters with a wisdom focus, and the party’s healer too, invest in their wisdom and constitution scores as you level up. With their simple spellcasting mechanic and baked-in roleplaying options, they are a great pick for first-time players. 

D&D 5E class guide Druid portrait

DRUID

Party Role   Utility, Support, Healer, Control
Primary Ability Wisdom 
Saving Throws Intelligence, Wisdom 
Hit Dice 1d8 per Level 
HP at 1st Level   8 + Constitution modifier 

Ever wanted to be one with nature or transform into any creature? If the answer is yes, then the Druid class is for you. Druids are incredibly versatile, able to polymorph into beasts, heal the party and control the elements to turn a battle in your favour. 

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With quirky spells and an aversion to metal, roleplaying as an eccentric Druid can be fun for players who love mysticism and folklore. Another primary spellcaster, you should focus on raising your Druid’s wisdom score first and foremost. 

READ OUR FULL FIGHTER GUIDE

FIGHTER

Party Role   Tank, Damage dealer
Primary Ability Strength or Dexterity
Saving Throws Strength, Constitution 
Hit Dice 1d10 per Level 
HP at 1st Level   10 + Constitution modifier

The classic action hero archetype, the Fighter is a specialised battle machine, and an excellent pick for players who love to deal damage in combat. Great for new players and an ideal base class to experiment with multiclassing, the Fighter offers a range of roleplaying possibilities.

Like the Barbarian, focus on strength/dexterity and constitution to make your Fighter a devastating force in combat.

Would you take the Fighter’s path? Begin your training with our comprehensive 5E Fighter class guide.

D&D 5E class guide monk portrait

Monk

Party Role   Damage dealer, Control
Primary Ability Wisdom & Dexterity 
Saving Throws Dexterity, Strength (gain all saving throws at level 14) 
Hit Dice 1d8 per Level
HP at 1st Level   8 + Constitution modifier 

Monks are the martial arts experts of the D&D world. Driven by discipline and the mystical force Ki, they destroy their enemies quickly and effectively. With their speed, Monks make excellent strikers in combat, able to break through enemy lines and target spellcasters. Their abilities make them great damage-dealers, but they can be challenging to play, due to their low hit dice and lack of armour proficiency.

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The Monk class offers unique character options with tons of pop culture references for roleplaying, from ninjas to air/water/earth/fire-benders. Focus on raising your dexterity, wisdom and constitution scores as you progress. 

Read our full Paladin guide

 Paladin

Party Role   Tank, Damage dealer, Support, Healer
Primary Ability Strength & Charisma 
Saving Throws Wisdom, Charisma 
Hit Dice 1d10 per Level 
HP at 1st Level   10 + Constitution modifier

Often taking the leadership role and becoming the face of the party, Paladins are a charismatic hybrid class, dealing in both spellcasting and melee combat. Unlike previous editions of the game, there are no alignment or religious restrictions for your Paladin in 5E, making them personality-driven and only bound to their chosen Oath. These Oaths will define your character’s play style, so pick carefully.

For a well-rounded Paladin that can support your party and act as the negotiator/diplomat in social situations, focus on raising your charisma and strength scores.

Are you set upon taking your Oath and joining the noble champions of the righteous? Dive into our comprehensive Paladin 5E guide for more. 

DND 5E class guide ranger portrait

Ranger

Party Role   Damage dealer, Utility, Support 
Primary Ability Dexterity &  Wisdom 
Saving Throws Dexterity, Strength 
Hit Dice 1d10 per Level 
HP at 1st Level   10 + Constitution modifier

A hybrid class perfect for any players that love exploration, Rangers are part-martial warrior, part-spellcaster and can be invaluable party members. A popular choice, Rangers are the masters of nature and can take on multiple party roles. They can be both melee and ranged damage-dealers, cast control spells, and provide heaps of utility for a campaign with their tracking abilities.

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Rangers get a ton of choices as they level up. They can select things like favoured terrain and enemies, so it is always a good idea to consult with your DM when character building. Focus on raising your dexterity score for damage and wisdom or constitution for spells and skills. 

D&D 5E class guide rogue portrait

Rogue

Party Role   Damage dealer, Utility
Primary Ability Dexterity
Saving Throws Dexterity, Intelligence 
Hit Dice 1d8 per Level 
HP at 1st Level   8+ Constitution modifier

Rogues are an elusive class who pride themselves on their ability to pick your pockets while stabbing you in the back. Awarded the most skills out of all classes, a Rogue  can build themselves into an irreplaceable ‘multi-tool’ teammate, picking locks, gathering information and deceiving their way out of disputes.

With abilities like sneak attack, they can obliterate single targets, making them satisfying to play for damage-dealing. Focus on raising your Rogue’s dexterity score, and strategically pick your level-up options to support the playstyle you want. 

D&D 5E class guide sorcerer portrait

Sorcerer

Party Role   Damage dealers, Control
Primary Ability Charisma
Saving Throws Constitution, Charisma 
Hit Dice 1d6 per Level 
HP at 1st Level   6 + Constitution modifier 

Unlike other spellcasters, Sorcerers have their magic granted through natural means; their powers come from raw ability. Quite a complex class but offering versatile spells make Sorcerers well-equipped for most dungeon crawling and social interactions.

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With their proficiency in constitution saving throws and ability to use sorcery points to make more spell slots, they are an enticing spellcaster class for any player. Focus on raising your charisma score for spellcasting and remember that fire spells in D&D 5E are always a powerful choice. 

READ OUR FULL WARLOCK GUIDE

Warlock

Party Role   Utility, Damage dealers, Control 
Primary Ability Charisma 
Saving Throws Wisdom, Charisma 
Hit Dice 1d8 per Level
HP at 1st Level   8 + Constitution modifier 

Spellcasters who form a pact with an otherworldly patron, Warlocks are granted incredible powers, making them uniquely strong damage dealers and unlike any other spellcaster in 5E. Despite their deceptively easy spellcasting, Warlocks are a mechanically complex class. Each level-up choice is meaningful and requires strategic thinking.

Their obligation to and relationship with their patron make them a story-building goldmine. You can be a cultist working for the fiends of hell, or an agent of the fey – the possibilities are endless. Great for damage-dealers to multiclass into, too. Focus on your charisma score for spellcasting.

Ready to make your pact? Dive in deep with our Warlock 5E guide.

D&D 5E Class Guide Wizard Portrait

Wizard

Party Role   Utility, Damage dealers, Control
Primary Ability Intelligence 
Saving Throws Intelligence, Wisdom 
Hit Dice 1d6 per Level 
HP at 1st Level   6 + Constitution modifier

Wizards and fantasy go hand in hand, and many players will no doubt gravitate towards this class. With eight schools of magic to choose from and a unique spellbook mechanic, Wizards immerse players completely into the ‘studious magical genius’ role, making roleplaying a breeze. They are a versatile class and can obliterate multiple enemies at once, but are quite vulnerable due to their low hit dice.

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Although tricky at first, once you understand the spellbook mechanic and how to utilise abilities like mage armour, a Wizard can be one of the party’s most effective damage-dealers. Focus on your intelligence score for spellcasting and remember to keep your spellbook safe!

If you are still undecided, it’s always good to consult your DM or look through the Player’s Handbook, which you can purchase through The Wizards of The Coast website.